West News Wire: With its unmatched powers to decide what to build and how to build it at the Walt Disney World Resort, issue bonds, and possess the potential to build its own nuclear reactor if it wished, Disney’s government in Florida has been the envy of any private enterprise.
In what some perceive as retaliation for Disney’s opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law supported by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature, a new bill released this week places the district firmly in the control of Florida’s governor and legislative leaders.
“Disney won’t like it because they’re not in control,” said Richard Foglesong, professor emeritus at Rollins College, who wrote a definitive account of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District in his book, “Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando.”
With that loss of control comes an uncertainty about how Disney’s revamped government and Walt Disney World, which it governs, will work together whether the left hand always will be in synch with the right hand as it has been with the company overseeing both entities.
The uniqueness of Disney’ government, where building inspectors examine black box structures holding thrill rides instead of office buildings, also complicates matters. The district essentially runs a midsize city. On any given day, as many as 350,000 people are on Disney World’s 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) as theme park visitors, overnight hotel guests or employees. The 55-year-old district has to manage the traffic, dispose of the waste and control the plentiful mosquitoes.
Disney could make an argument that their rights as a private business are being undermined, Foglesong said.
“It will have political appeal, the arguments they make, in a Republican state for a potential presidential candidate,” Foglesong said. “It will be like, legally, ‘How can you do this to us?’ and politically, ‘How can you do this to a corporation that has done so much for the state of Florida?'”